Wednesday, December 10, 2014

BOOK REVIEW | Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

Just a warning: there are some spoilers in this review that I did not tag, so read at your own risk.

(Also, I feel like I need to say that this review does not reflect what I think of the author herself or of other readers who enjoyed this series.  You are free to love what books you love!  I'm just not able to jump on this bandwagon. D:  Stay chill, my friends. :))

One sentence summary: Celaena Sardothien is now the King's Champion, and must keep up a daily charade of pretending to be his ally while simultaneously plotting to tear him apart; meanwhile she keeps discovering more secrets below the castle, secrets so deep that they could destroy the world.

I once mentioned that a book made me so frustrated that I actually threw my Kindle. Well, this is the book in question. And it was more of a toss. Onto my bed. But the fact remains that I was so flustered and even angered by the ending of this book that I was willing to make my beloved Kindle airborne.

I desperately wanted to love this book, just as I wanted to love the first in the series. Normally when a series becomes wildly popular, I either appreciate the hype or I can at least understand it, but with this series, I honestly just can't. I really do not understand why this series is so popular, and I really do not understand why people prefer this book to the first. I found this book to be worse.

Let me start with what I did like:

Celaena's breakdown: This actually happened in the fourth novella as well, which was why it turned out to be my favorite. Her breakdown provided a much-needed vulnerability to her character for the reader. It was very human of her, and for once she didn't seem so vomit-inducingly perfect. It also reminded us that she actually is an assassin and will always turn to bloodlust when confronted with such strong emotions.

The underground everything: I was glad to see that the underground passageways were still alive and well, considering they were my favorite part of the first book. The mysteries and discoveries and cool traps and doors and hallways, etc. I do have to admit that it's taking a bit of a weird turn, but I still like it.

Celaena actually killed people!: Yay. Because she is, you know, an assassin.

Perhaps the biggest issue is that I simply did not like any of the main characters or the overall plotline; considering these two aspects are what basically make a novel what it is, I may have been doomed to dislike this series from the beginning. Celaena is too perfect, Dorian is too boring and Chaol is too predictable. They all are so stuck in these personality traits that it's hard to see them as three dimensional characters. They are flat and, quite often, unlikeable. I honestly think that Mass has a lot of good ideas, but they're buried underneath her inability to create complex characters and her juvenile writing.

It's not that she's incapable of creating an interesting character, it's just that there's one aspect of them that's so heavily focused on that any other intended trait gets pushed to the side, making them seem like caricatures. Even Nehemia, perhaps the most interesting character, fell prey to this. Maas made her so noble that she seemed almost inhuman. And that's the issue with these characters - they don't feel real. If I'm constantly reminded of how two dimensional a character is, how am I supposed to get into the story?

I'm also extremely unimpressed with the reliance on the shock value, which this book had. I have been in Celaena's head, both as a first person narrator and as a third person narrator. There should be no reason for her hiding the fact that she's a Queen (which wasn't much of a shock) and that she's a faery (which was) from the reader. How could Celaena not once thought of those things? How, as a reader, am I expected to just passively accept this as valid instead of as a ploy to cover up a mediocre story? The thing is, had Maas no decided to pull this, I might have actually enjoyed the book. If she could have just revealed this earlier and relied on her writing to further explain it to the reader while hiding from the characters, she might have had the opportunity to create something fanastic. Instead, she went the cheap route which only served to highlight all of the other instances in the book that felt poorly written.

The ending felt so rushed and so disorganized that I felt like I needed to just buckle down and finish it in order to get it over with. After the original reveal, which is Celaena's faery power, I honestly started finding everything to be ridiculous. Maas seemed to have gone to such lengths to destroy the image of Celaena as a Mary Sue, and then she adds the superhero power onto her, putting the character right back where she started.

All in all, I am still a bit baffled as to why this series is as popular as it is, but I know that I'm very much in the minority on this. I cannot look past being emotionally manipulated by the author and I can't shake the "big reveals" as anything other than a cheap trick to cover up insecure writing.


  1. I'm glad you gave me a heads up with the spoilers! I was able to "lightly skim" through the review without screaming because I found something out I didn't want to yet. I'm having a read-along for the rest of the series soon, and I'm seriously hoping I enjoy it. I'm one of the few readers that are in between when it comes to TOG. I didn't LOVE it like everyone said I would, but I didn't HATE it either. I'm eager to see if it does improve like other readers have mentioned. Your review does make me a bit nervous though lol.

    1. Well, for what it's worth, I'm very much in the minority so chances are you'll love it. :) I wouldn't be surprised if this gets its over movie/TV show since it's so popular, LOL. I'll be excited to read your review when you finish it and I'm glad you weren't spoiled! <3

  2. You didn't learn of Celaena's heritage from her POV because she'd locked of her pre-Terrasen fire away in the darkest recesses of her mind. And that can happen. People can lock away memories when it is linked to trauma.

    1. It can happen, but I would argue that it's not what happened with her.

      For one, it's hinted at in the first book. She has some memory that she's not willing to recognize yet. I was okay with that. I am just not okay with how it came about since it was so heavily relying on the shock factor, and in case you didn't notice, I'm not a fan of that tactic, LOL.

      Also, if she had really suppressed her memories to such an extreme extent, then there should have been some sort of shock/huge emotional upheaval when she turned into a faery to save Chaol - and I would have liked to see her struggle with it more before she wrote a letter to Chaol. But that letter sort of also argues against it because she basically says she's known all along.

      Thanks for commenting! :)

  3. I haven't started this series yet, Jules. Not sure when or if I will, either, so I kind of skimmed your review.
    Too bad you didn't enjoy it as much as you thought you might. I hope your next read will be amazing :)

    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

  4. I totally adore this series!
    Your new follower
    @Vanilla Reads

  5. Awww sorry you didn't like this one! It's my FAVORITE series ;) I just love the characterization, the relationships, the writing, the court politics, the romance, the action, the humor, EVERYTHING.

    Rachel @ A Perfection Called Books

  6. I love this Series and I actually haven't read this one so I skipped parts of the review. I will come back after I've read it though!

    I nominated you for the Infinity Dreamer Award

  7. I have nominated you for the Liebster award!